Sunday, November 1, 2009

Militant atheist clichés, redefinition, and Israel in 1595


Jewish date:  14 Marḥeshwan 5770 (Parashath Wayyera’).

Today’s holidays:  The Days of the Dead (Hispanic Roman Catholicism), All Saints’ Day (Western Christianity). Feast of All Saints of the True Church (Thelema).

Worthy causes of the day:  “ACT for America:    We Call for a Formal Investigation
of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)”, “Release the Torture Memo Report”, “Help the Poor Deal with the Effects of Climate Change”, and “Take Action: Help permanently protect Americas Wildest Grassland”.

Topic 1:  Barry has noted that now, right after Halloween, would be a good time to go out and buy costumes for Purim.

Philip Pullman signing a copy of Lyra's Oxford...Image via Wikipedia
Topic 2:  Chapters 5 through 9 of The Subtle Knife (His Dark Materials, Book 2) by Philip Pullman.  A lot of this material is dedicated to progressing the plot (centered around a villain who has escaped from Lyra’s world) and the mechanics of inter-universe travel using a special knife (the “subtle knife” of the title of this book) which can cut holes between worlds.  Also showing up are:

A) Shamans among the Eskimos, more in mention that actually showing on-screen.  Their initiation requires going through a door into the “spirit world”.  Some never come back.

B) The Church in Lyra’s world keeping a close watch on scientific research, even censoring the results.  (Figures in a book written by a militant atheist.)

C) Horrible, barely visible monsters known as Specters which only attack adults.  They are viewed by some as Divine punishment for some sin.  (Also figures in a book written by a militant atheist; they like painting deities as mean and vengeful.)

D) Angels, otherwise known as bene elim (a genuine Hebrew term for angels) and Watchers.  They are seen in the form of winged, naked humans, largely due to the expectations of the witch who sees them, and they are working with Lord Asriel.  Lord Asriel, you will remember, is working towards killing God.  Reference is made to a rebellion of angels against God (think the fall of Satan) and angels breeding with humans.  The angels also have their own way to travel between worlds.  I am not clear what Pullman is planning with the angels, but intuition suggests a perverse version of Christian notions of angels.

E) The notion that Lyra/Pantalaimon and Will have destinies.

I am still not impressed with Pullman’s work, but after Pullman’s decision to have Lord Asriel working to kill God, there is little he can hope to do to redeem himself anyway.

Topic 3:  “The Goldstone Report - Using Terminology in Service of Deception”.  This article slams the misuse of the term “Palestinian”, noting how the term has actually been used historically.  Essentially the modern use of the term is a fabrication used to help fight the Israeli-Arab War.  Previously the term was geographical and when referring to humans only referred to Jews.  It was not applied to Muslims/Arabs until 1967.  Related to this is the article “Jews dominated the Holy Land in 1695”, which discusses a travelogue by Adriaan Reland, who visited Israel in 1695 and found a lot of Jews and extremely few Muslims/Arabs.

Peace, and start planning for Purim.

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